So before we got married and went on our honeymoon (and I'm sorry I havent posted any info or pictures...not sure if anyone even wanted to see any of it), I was having some difficulty with Milo under saddle. Nothing major, really, the difficulty was in myself. Since I started my new job last November my riding time as tanked. The wedding kept coming closer, I was worked this last winter on minimum 50 hour weeks, mostly 60s, and I was attending mandatory after hours school classes. But now that the wedding is over, my horse is now home, I graduated from helper school, and our project has finally reached it's halfway point and is slowing down, I am beginning to have more time to myself. Which naturally means, more time to spend with the horses. (I can now say HORSES not just horse!)
What I was noticing before we left was that I was losing not only my strength in the saddle (twenty minute rides felt like our average forty minute ones before) but also my leg. What I mean by that is I was loosing the sensitivity to my leg and seat cues that Milo and I once had. I realized, harshly and with remorse, that I was riding with my spurs now, and it really shamed me. But my riding times were few and far between this last spring and summer so any time in the saddle was good time and I figured I would go back to "working on stuff" later. Well, now its that "later" and I have more time back on my hands.
When we returned from our honeymoon and I brought Milo home without really a second thought, I removed my spurs from my boots and headed out the door. I climbed aboard, prepped with a dressage whip on the fence if need be, and started our ride. I didnt ever need to reach for the dressage whip.
I was discovering a few weeks ago (about the time that I realized I no longer rode with my leg) that if I used the weight in my seatbones the opposite way that I was, I would receive better results. It all started when I watched a short video online of a reining trainer who mentioned that riding (cuing) is all about opening doors. I was searching videos on spins and in this instance he was mentioning how you need to get your inside leg off and put the outside leg on, thereby "opening the door" to the inside of the spin. A basic concept and one I already knew, but I began to think about it more as I rode, and how he mentioned that throughout our ride it is all about opening doors. I wondered this as I shifted my weight from seatbone to seatbone throughout my ride, and realized that I would sit on my inside seatbone when asking for Milo to turn to the inside. It makes sense to do that, I suppose, but from what the online trainer mentioned I was actually closing the door I wanted Milo to walk into. This realization got me thinking and I started working on doing the opposite and giving Milo clear "doors" throughout the ride. And it was working.
So anyway, now that I have been back and have had a few rides to practice opening all the doors, I've removed my spurs and have worked more on riding with my legs (primarily meaning my calves not my heels). And I have had some really good rides. I can only ask for so much in my sort of arena right now, but considering the circumstances I have had some excellent work from Milo. And honestly, I think we are both happier in our rides. Milo feels almost more willing (probably because I am actually using my body now and not the force of the spur) and I feel more relaxed in my ride as well. I'm not sure if the spurs will come back. Although I am no hater of spurs now, I could see myself needing them down the road for specific maneuvers, but I do see this as a start of something new. And good.
P.S. I also took off his sliders last Friday when he was due for a reset and trim. With the condition of my arena and wet weather coming up, there just seemed like no point. And I am a lucky horse owner in that he hasnt taken a single bad step since the change again, even with all the rocks on my property!